The good and bad of spring training 2016

ST2016I looked at the calendar today and was amazed to discover that the regular season starts in less than two weeks!  I’ve been really busy at work the last few weeks, so the time has flown.  I’ve had a little time to reflect on what has happened to the Cardinals during spring training this year.  Here are my thoughts:

The good:

Seung Hwan Oh. This has been one of Mo’s better off-season pickups.  Not only does Oh have a surname worthy of many catchy tweets, but he is a wicked pitcher as well.  He has only given up 1 hit and 1 run in spring training.  He is well deserving of the nickname The Final Boss.  Oh has asked Cards fans to think up a new nickname for him.  I can only think of one – O-o-o-o-o-h Baby! I am looking forward to seeing him pitch in the regular season.

Brayan Peña.  Peña is another one of Mo’s great off-season pickups.  He will be a better than average back up for Yadi when he needs a day off, or if Yadi can’t start the regular season.  Peña’s lively personality is contagious and will be a great addition to the team. He’s a fan favorite no matter what team he’s playing for, as you can see if you follow Peña on Twitter.  If you  haven’t yet read Peña’s story about how he defected from Cuba, check it out here.

Jedd Gyorko.  The Cards needed a good backup infield player after Pete Kozma was released.  Jon Jay was traded to the Padres for Gyorko, and this was a really good deal. The Cards had an overload of outfielders, so Jay was expendable.  Gyorko can play a variety of infield positions, which came in handy after Jhonny Peralta got hurt (see below).

Matt Holliday at first base.  I admit to being skeptical about this at first (pun intended).  Holliday has been patrolling left field for years now.  But it’s not like it hasn’t been done before.  As Mark Tomasik wrote about last week on his Retrosimba blog, none other than Stan the Man himself was converted from an outfielder to a first baseman.  And don’t forget about Albert Pujols’ conversion from left field to first base.  Brandon Moss and Matt Adams are still battling for the first base position, so any time that Holliday would be playing at first would probably be minimal. However, playing first would be a great way for Holliday to extend his career – that is, unless and until the DH finally comes to the National League.

The bad:

The spring training standings.  The Cards have lost the last 8 spring training games in a row.  There are three ways to look at spring training standings:  1.  These games don’t count anyway, so I’m not worried about it; 2.  The team is not playing well during spring training, and that will carry over to the regular season; or 3.  The team is playing really well and that bodes well for the regular season.  I am starting to get a little concerned about the spring training standings.  It’s pretty sad that a bracket-type contest to determine the best Cardinals blogger Twitter account is getting more attention than the Cards’ spring training season itself.

The offense.  Second verse, same as the first.  The Cards appear to be in the same offensive funk that ended their playoff run last season. One wonders how long it will take before someone figures out that John Mabry is the reason for the team’s offense problems.  This is Baseball 101 – you can’t win games unless you score runs.  Mike Matheny has stated that he wants to see more stolen bases this year and more aggressiveness on the base paths.  Gee, that sounds familiar – oh wait, that’s Whiteyball.  Home runs are nice, but I enjoy watching small ball as well.

Jhonny Peralta.  It always seems like the Cards have at least one player get injured during spring training, and this year is no exception.  On March 5  in a game against the Marlins, Peralta injured his thumb while fielding a ball. It’s the same injury that Yadi had with his thumb. Hopefully, Jhonny won’t have to have 2 surgeries like Yadi had.  Jhonny’s injury led to Mo signing Ruben Tejada, recently released by the Mets, to compete for the shortstop position.

The Cards didn’t have a game scheduled for today, and they have no more days off for the rest of spring training.  Hopefully, the team will start winning and get the momentum they need to start the regular season on a good note.

Thanks for reading! See you next time!

Diane

Happy Pitchers and Catchers Report Day!

Today may be Hump Day but more importantly for Cardinals fans, today is Pitchers and Catchers Report Day! Baseball is back, baby! PCRD is a major holiday on the Cardinal calendar. It signals the end of the off-season and the beginning of spring training. Some of the Cardinals players reported to camp early, including new Korean relief pitcher Seung Hwan Oh. (Oh, the puns that will be made with that last name. Poor guy.)

I saw a meme on Facebook the other day that changes the names of the calendar seasons with baseball seasons. Instead of spring, summer, fall and winter, there is spring training, regular season, post-season and off-season.  Although the winter has been pretty mild here in the St. Louis area, the grey, dreary days leave me longing for baseball.  This has been a long week this week, waiting for Wednesday.

I’m so excited that baseball is back! I hope you are too.  Here’s a poem I posted in February 2014, and it still applies today:

Ode to Spring Training

Cardinals fans cheer! The day’s finally here,
We’ve waited for all winter long,
It’s time to rejoice, so lift up your voice,
And come and join me in this song!

Pitchers and catchers report,
Pitchers and catchers report,
Four words that say spring’s on its way,
Pitchers and catchers report!

The winter’s been long and dreary,
With snow and cold galore,
And although our hearts were weary,
They’re not that way anymore!

Because today –

Pitchers and catchers report,
Pitchers and catchers report,
Four words that say spring’s on its way,
Pitchers and catchers report!

Yes, there is a tune for this, and hopefully some year, I will make a video of me singing it. Until then, however, you’ll have to enjoy the printed lyrics.

Thanks as always for reading!  See you next time!

Diane

What is this malaise?

Heart

What is this malaise?

A one-act skit

It’s time for Diane’s semi-annual physical.  Diane is sitting on the exam table in the doctor’s office.  The doctor knocks on the door and then walks in.

Doctor:

Hello, Diane.  It’s good to see you again.  How are you feeling today?

Diane:

Doctor, I’m in a real funk.  I just have no energy.  I’m just dragging.   I don’t want to do anything,

Doctor:

Well, let’s take a look to see if there’s a physical cause for this malaise. (The doctor takes the scope off of the wall and looks in Diane’s ears.)  The inner ears look normal.

The doctor goes over to the sink and gets a tongue depressor.

Doctor:

Let’s look at the throat and tongue.  Open wide, please. (The doctor places the depressor on Diane’s tongue.)  There’s nothing wrong with your tongue or throat.

The doctor throws away the tongue depressor.  The doctor takes the stethoscope from around his neck and puts the earpieces in his ears.

Doctor:

I’m going to listen to your heart and lungs.  (The doctor presses the end of the stethoscope at various places.)  The lungs and heart sound good.  (He looks at Diane’s chart.)  Your blood pressure is within range and your lab work results are good.

Diane:

Well, I’m glad that there’s nothing wrong with me physically.

Doctor:

Have you been getting any exercise?

Diane:

I have a Fitbit Charge and I’ve been trying to get in 7,000 steps a day.  But it’s harder to do on the weekends because it’s too cold to walk.

Doctor:

A good, brisk walk will get the heart pumping and it will warm you up.

Diane:

I know, Doctor, but I don’t think that not getting enough exercise is the reason for my malaise.

Doctor:

It’s February – maybe you have Seasonal Affective Disorder.  I could prescribe a light box to help with that.

Diane:

Hmm, maybe.  (Diane looks down and sighs.)

Doctor:

Wait a minute. You’re a Cardinals blogger.  I really enjoy reading your blog posts.  (pause) Has there been a time lately that you have felt good?

Diane:

I did feel really good during Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend.  That was Winter Warm-Up weekend, you know.

Doctor:

(slowly smiles) I think I know what’s causing your malaise, Diane.

Diane:

Tell me what it is, Doc, before I lose my mind!

Doctor:

You are suffering from Baseball Deficiency Disorder.

Diane:

What?!? (Diane glares at the doctor.)

Doctor:

The symptoms are sadness and loss of desire to do anything. It only occurs from the end of the World Series until spring training starts. It is  exacerbated by the long, dreary days of winter.  The only cure for BDD is some baseball, especially  the Cardinal variety.

Diane:

I know, but spring training doesn’t start for 13 days. What can I do, Doc?

Doctor:

(pause)  I think I may have a cure for your problem.  Wait right here.  I’ll be right back.  (The doctor leaves the room and shuts the door).

Diane:

(to herself) What in the world is Doc up to?  Maybe it’s time for me to find a new doctor.

The doctor knocks and then comes back into the exam room.  He hands Diane an envelope.

Doctor:

Open the envelope, Diane.  I think you’ll like what’s inside.

Diane opens the envelope. Her eyes grow big as saucers.

Diane:

Doctor!  These are spring training game tickets!

Doctor:

See how quickly you felt better?  (The doctor starts to laugh.)

Diane:

But Doc, I can’t take your tickets! How am I ever going to pay you for these tickets?

Doctor:

These are on the house.  My wife and I were going to go to Jupiter for spring break, but my wife’s parents are coming to town and we can’t go.  (The doctor looks down sadly.)  At least, I know you would use these tickets and enjoy the game.  Be sure you write about your spring training  experience on your blog, okay?  I can enjoy it vicariously through you.

Diane jumps off the exam table and hugs the doctor.

Diane:

Thank you, Doc! Thank you so much!  I feel so much better already!

Doctor:

It’s good to see you happy again.  Now make sure you make your next appointment before you leave.  I’ll see you in six months.

The doctor exits the exam. Diane carefully puts the envelope with the tickets in it in her purse, then exits the exam room with a huge grin on her face.

THE END

Yes, this is a skit.  No, I do not have a doctor who knows I’m a Cardinals blogger, let alone that I’m a baseball fan.  But I do have that malaise called Baseball Deficiency Disorder, and I’m sure that you, my loyal reader, have BDD too.  As I write this, spring training doesn’t start for 13 more days. So close and yet so far! I once again auditioned for the KMOX Sports Correspondent contest, but since I haven’t heard from them, I probably didn’t make the finals. I’ll have to to win the lottery so I can go to spring training.

This weekend is the Super Bowl, and after that, baseball is right around the corner.  I just hope the calendar moves quickly!  Thanks as always for reading! See you next time!

Diane

Auditioning for the KMOX Sports Correspondent contest

kmox-sportsco-finalI once wrote a blog post about my Cardinals bucket list, and one of the items on the list is going to spring training.  Alas, our household budget doesn’t allow for such luxuries.  However, if I get lucky enough, I may get to go to spring training this year, and it would be because of the KMOX Sports Correspondent contest. The winner of this contest wins a four day trip for two to spring training with tickets to two games. It’s not all fun; there is some work involved, but since it’s Cardinals baseball, it’ll be fun work. There are more details about the contest at the link here.  You have to audition to win the contest, however, so I auditioned last night.  Here’s the tale of my audition.

Last night’s audition was at Gold’s Gym in Fenton, Missouri.  The earlier audition dates were at other Gold’s Gyms in Missouri, but I decided to go to the Gold’s Gym in Fenton because it was the closest audition location to where I live in Illinois.  My son had another activity last night and I couldn’t take him and go to the audition too (we only have one vehicle), so I asked my friend Kim to drive me to Fenton.  She agreed (thank you, Kim) and she picked me up at my house. Of course, being a girl, I had to make sure my hair and my makeup looked good for my audition video before I left the house.

Earlier in the day, I went to Mapquest and printed out the directions to the Fenton Gold’s Gym to take with us.  The trip was going well until we got to Hwy. 270. Mapquest told us to take Exit 3, which was the first exit after the Jefferson Barracks Bridge.  Kim started to exit off the highway, but I realized it was Koch Road, which would take us to the VA Hospital and not to Fenton.  So Kim hurried up and got back on Hwy. 270.  What we really wanted was the MO-30 Gravois Road exit, which also turned out  to be Exit 3.  That’s really confusing, MODOT;  you all really need to fix that.

After a couple of wrong turns in beautiful rural Fenton, we finally arrived at Gold’s Gym.  After a long, cold walk from the parking lot, we entered the building.  We saw this sign:

KMOX+-+1

So where are the auditions?  I asked the nice lady at the front desk for assistance.  It turned out it was right around the corner.  The Sports Open Line guys were broadcasting live.

KMOX 2

The audition tables were on the right.  Kim and I were greeted by Mike Nichol and Todd Rick of the KMOX Street Team. They asked whether both of us were auditioning.  I said that I was the only one auditioning and Kim told them she was just along for moral support.  I was given a release to sign.  Since I am a legal assistant and Kim is a former paralegal, we both reviewed the legal language in the release thoroughly. There was a paragraph with a very long run-on sentence; one of us needs to work in the legal department at KMOX to review their releases, I think.

I was given a script to read, which was the Version 8 Copy.  I read the copy and grabbed a pen so I could edit the wording. That’s one of my duties as a legal assistant, editing and proofreading pleadings and other documents.  I asked who wrote the copy.  It turned out that Tom Ackerman, the KMOX Sports Director, wrote the copy.  I told Mike and Todd that Mr. Ackerman should feel free to email his copy to me and I would be happy to edit it for him.

After I was done editing, I read it through in my head a few times to get a feel for pacing.  There were second marks (10 sec, 30 sec, etc.) on the side of the copy.  I then had to write my name on a white sheet of paper.  My audition number was on this sheet – I was the 73rd person to audition.  Not that night – 73 was the total of all the auditions at that point.  I sat at a table behind a faux old fashioned microphone. Here’s a photo of me reading the script:

KMOX3 (1)

Here’s a photo of one of the Street Team guys filming my audition:

KMOX 4

After I was done, the Street Team guys said I did a really good job.  I then told the Street Team guys about this blog.  Hopefully, they’ll look it up.  We discussed other matters about the contest and about spring training, and then it was time to go, because another person walked up to audition.

I honestly thought that I would have to wait to audition last night, but I didn’t.  Either everyone who wanted to audition already did, or it was just too cold for people to leave their nice warm homes.   Now that the auditions are over, all of the videos will be reviewed by the folks at KMOX.  Ten finalists will be selected next week.  The videos made by the finalists will be put on the KMOX website and the public can vote on who they like the best.  If I get selected to be a finalist, I will be sure to let you know where you can view the videos and how you can vote for me, if you want.  I wouldn’t want to pressure you or anything.  🙂

After we stopped at the Phillips 66 station to fuel up the vehicle for the journey home, Kim used the voice option on Google Maps on her phone to get us back home and ironically, it took us the same way we came. Maybe Mapquest wasn’t wrong after all.

I hope I did auditioned well enough to be one of the finalists and I hope I get enough votes to win!  If not, I’ll try again next year.   That’s all for now! Thanks for reading and see you soon!

Diane

2014 single game tickets go on sale this Friday!

Another2014 tickets sign that winter is almost over is the announcement that single game tickets will go on sale this Friday (February 28).  Are you planning on purchasing single game tickets for three or more games? The Cardinals will give you an early chance to purchase tickets online starting Wednesday morning. Here’s all the details:

2014 SINGLE-GAME TICKETS GO ON SALE THIS WEEK

Cardinals ticket prices start at just $5 for many games

ST. LOUIS, MO (February 24, 2014) –The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that individual tickets for the 2014 season will go on sale this Friday, February 28th beginning at 10 a.m. CT.

Fans who wish to purchase tickets to three or more games will receive early access to take part in a special online-only “multi-game” on-sale beginning Wednesday, February 26th at 10 a.m. CT.

In addition to hosting traditional rivals such as the Cubs, Dodgers and Giants, the Cardinals’ 2014 home schedule features highly anticipated interleague matchups with the New York Yankees (May 26-28) in Derek Jeter’s final season, as well as a World Series rematch with the Boston Red Sox (August 5-7). The 2014 schedule also includes over 35 promotional giveaway dates, featuring popular favorites such as five replica jerseys, five bobbleheads, three replica Championship rings and many more.

While ticket demand is expected to be high coming off the team’s second NL Championship in three years, the Cardinals will continue to offer great values in 2014 with ticket prices starting as low as $5.

Coming to Busch Stadium should be both an enjoyable and affordable experience for our fans,” said Bill DeWitt III, President of the Cardinals. “Thanks to our dynamic ticket pricing system, we’re able to provide better deals on a consistent basis.”

The Cardinals’ dynamic pricing system allows the team to more accurately price tickets for individual games and provide fans more value. In 2013, over 50% of games featured tickets available for $10 or less.

Throughout the season, the team will continue to offer “Dynamic Deals of the Week” highlighting outstanding ticket savings for fans, as well as a host of other fan-friendly values which can be found at cardinals.com/fanvalues.

The multi-game sale and Friday single-game on-sale are both available online at cardinals.com. In addition, tickets will be available for Friday’s on-sale via phone at 314-345-9000 or in person at all Cardinals Clubhouse Stores and at the Busch Stadium Ticket Windows and kiosks.

A full list of fan-friendly values for the 2014 Season follows.

Fan-Friendly Values 2014

  • Dynamic Pricing: Ticket prices fluctuate based on market value, meaning many games feature tickets as low as $5.
  • Great Promotional Giveaways: Premium items including five replica jerseys, three replica rings and five bobbleheads highlight a season of over 35 stadium giveaways and special promotions.
  • Outside Food & Drinks at All Games: Busch Stadium is the only St. Louis sports venue where fans may bring in their own food and drinks for all home games (some size and content restrictions apply).
  • Hunter Family Sundays: On most Sundays, fans who purchase RF/LF Pavilion and RF Terrace tickets will receive a free Hunter hot dog and Coca-Cola.
  • Prairie Farms Ice Cream Sundays: Two hours prior to each Sunday game, enjoy games, prizes and FREE Prairie Farms ice cream and North Star frozen treats in the Ford Plaza.
  • Six Flags Double Play Combo: Get a Cardinals game ticket and a Six Flags ticket for only $60.
  • AAA Member Discounts: AAA members receive a $10 discount off select Monday-Thursday home game tickets.
  • Fill Up at Phillips 66: Fill up with eight (8) gallons or more at a participating Phillips 66 to receive a special discount ticket offer of up to 50% off many 2014 games.
  • KMOX 1120 First Pitch Tickets: At 9 a.m. CT on the day of each home game, fans may purchase a voucher good for two tickets for just $11.20 ($5.60 per ticket). Fans redeem their vouchers for actual tickets 15 minutes prior to game time. Tickets may be anywhere in the stadium from Field Box to Standing Room.
  • Ticket Packs: Several different 5-game and 10-game ticket packs, which feature discounted tickets to 2014’s best promotional giveaways and highest demand games.
  • Group Value Nights: Select games throughout the season where groups of 25 or more receive 50% off regular ticket prices.
  • Cards Cash: Stored money built into the barcode of your ticket, good for use at any Busch Stadium concession stand, kiosk or Team Store. Fans can add $12 Cards Cash to a ticket for just $10.

For more details, visit cardinals.com/fanvalues.

In other news, spring training has started and a pitcher is already injured (what’s new?). Jaime Garcia is experiencing pain in his pitching shoulder, on which he had surgery last season. For any other team but the Cardinals, this would be cause for concern. But the Cardinals have lots of pitching talent, so another pitcher can fill his slot if necessary. Jaime will have an MRI on Monday in St. Louis to determine the extent of the injury.  My husband had the same surgery that Jaime had a couple of years ago and he occasionally still has pain in his shoulder.

The first spring training game is Friday afternoon.  I would be able to listen to the broadcast if I weren’t having a colonoscopy that afternoon.  Your thoughts and prayers would be appreciated.  Matt Holliday would be proud of me. Hopefully, I get a better report than his mother did.

Thanks for reading! See you next time!

Diane

The 2013 spring training broadcast schedule is here!

Good news for those of us who long for spring training and who want to listen and/or watch more spring training games!  The good news is that almost all of the Cards’ spring training games will be broadcast on the Cardinals Radio Network and Fox Sports Midwest (TV).  There’s also some news about spring training packages that the Cardinals are offering.  Here’s the scoop:

SPRING TRAINING RADIO & TV BROADCAST SCHEDULES ANNOUNCED

FOX Sports Midwest to televise all-time-high 15 spring training games; 18 games broadcast on Cardinals Radio Network

Exclusive Travel Packages from Cardinals Vacations Are Available for Fans Looking to Experience Spring Training First Hand

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (January 13, 2014) – The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that fans will be able to catch nearly all of the club’s 2014 spring training games on FOX Sports Midwest and the Cardinals Radio Network.

FOX Sports Midwest will televise an all-time-high 15 St. Louis Cardinals spring training games in 2014, one of the largest spring broadcast schedules in MLB. FOX Sports Midwest’s live spring training coverage has jumped from five games in 2012 to 10 in 2013 and 15 in 2014. The television home of the Cardinals kicks off its live game coverage Friday, February 28, when the Cardinals open Grapefruit League play vs. Miami at Roger Dean Stadium, the first of six games against the Marlins. The television schedule also features visits by the Red Sox, Mets, Twins, Tigers, Braves and Nationals. In addition, ESPN will broadcast the game at Boston on Monday, March 17.  FOX Sports Midwest will replay each spring training telecast that night.

As in years past, veteran broadcasters Mike Shannon and John Rooney will broadcast 18 games on the team’s flagship station KMOX (AM 1120) and the Cardinals Radio Network, including the Cardinals’ exhibition game against the Memphis Redbirds at AutoZone Park in Memphis on Friday, March 28.

The first of 18 radio broadcasts will begin Friday, February 28, as the Cardinals face the Miami Marlins. Throughout spring training, every Saturday and Sunday broadcast will feature the Cardinals Pre-Game Show. The show will air 20 minutes prior to first pitch and feature Mike Shannon or John Rooney interviewing Cardinals players, coaches and other baseball personalities. The 125 Cardinals Radio Network affiliates will broadcast most Saturday and Sunday games, as well as select weekday games. Fans are encouraged to check their local listings for details.

The St. Louis Cardinals have some exclusive travel packages available through Cardinals Vacations that allow fans to experience spring training firsthand. Packages include hard-to-get game tickets, choice of hotel accommodations, car rental, exclusive Cardinals post-game dinner with manager Mike Matheny and select Cardinals players and team personnel, custom Cardinals merchandise and more. Fans can choose from a variety of travel packages atcardinals.com/springtravel or at 1-800-892-7687.

The Cardinals 2014 spring training broadcast schedule is attached below.

2014 St. Louis Cardinals spring training broadcast schedule

DAY DATE VS/AT OPPONENT TV TIME (CT) RADIO TIME (CT)   TV RADIO
Friday 2/28 VS MIAMI 12:00pm 11:55am FOX Sports Midwest KMOX/CRN
Saturday 3/1 @ MIAMI 12:00pm 11:45am FOX Sports Midwest KMOX/CRN
Sunday 3/2 VS NY METS 12:00pm 11:45am FOX Sports Midwest KMOX/CRN
Wednesday 3/5 VS BOSTON 12:00pm 11:55am FOX Sports Midwest

KMOX/CRN

Friday 3/7 VS MIAMI

12:00pm

11:55am

FOX Sports Midwest Plus*

KMOX/CRN
Saturday 3/8 VS WASHINGTON

 —

11:45am

 —

KMOX/CRN
Sunday 3/9 @ WASHINGTON

 —

11:45am  — KMOX/CRN
Monday 3/10 VS DETROIT

12:00pm

 —

FOX Sports Midwest

 —
Tuesday 3/11 VS NY METS 12:00pm 11:55am FOX Sports Midwest KMOX/CRN
Thursday 3/13 VS ATLANTA 12:00pm

11:55am

FOX Sports Midwest KMOX/CRN
Saturday 3/15 @ ATLANTA  —

11:45am

 — KMOX/CRN
Sunday 3/16 VS NY METS 12:00pm 11:45am FOX Sports Midwest Plus* KMOX/CRN
Monday 3/17 @ BOSTON 12:00pm  — ESPN  —
Wednesday 3/19 VS MINNESOTA

12:00pm

 — FOX Sports Midwest  —
Thursday 3/20 @ MIAMI

12:00pm

11:55am FOX Sports Midwest KMOX/CRN
Friday 3/21 VS WASHINGTON 12:00pm 11:55am FOX Sports Midwest KMOX/CRN
Saturday 3/22 @ HOUSTON  — 11:45am  — KMOX/CRN
Sunday 3/23 VS HOUSTON  —

11:45am

 — KMOX/CRN
Tuesday 3/25 @ MIAMI 12:00pm 11:55am FOX Sports Midwest KMOX/CRN
Wednesday 3/26 VS WASHINGTON 12:00pm 11:55am FOX Sports Midwest & ESPN KMOX/CRN
Thursday 3/27 VS MIAMI 12:00pm  — FOX Sports Midwest  
Friday 3/28 @ MEMPHIS  — TBA  — KMOX/CRN

 

 *March 7 & 16th games on Fox Sports Midwest Plus.

Fans should check local listings and may learn more at cardinals.com/radio and cardinals.com/tv

That’s all for now! Thanks for reading and see you next time!

Diane

Spring Training History 101

“People ask me what I do in the winter when there’s no baseball.  I look out the window and wait for spring.”  – Rogers Hornsby

Like Rogers, we baseball fans too wait for spring training all winter long.  It’s a sign that the regular season will soon be here.  Spring training is well under way now.  But have you ever wondered about the history of spring training?  I did, so I decided to do a little research.

An unlikely character first came up with the idea of spring training.  Newspaper articles from 1869 report Tammany Hall head man William “Boss” Tweed first came up with the idea of spring training when he sent his team, the amateur New York Naturals, to New Orleans to shape up for the 1869 season.  The Cincinnati Reds, who became the first professional baseball team in 1869, followed suit in 1870 by opening their season in New Orleans and playing their first few games of the season across the South.  The White Stockings (n/k/a the White Sox) also went to New Orleans in the spring of 1870.

During the 1870s, many teams from the then new National League and other professional and amateur clubs headed to New Orleans to get ready for the season.  Savannah, Georgia and Charleston, North Carolina were other popular destinations for teams.  In 1885, Chicago White Stockings player-manager Cap Anson, after witnessing one of his pitchers down 8 beers in one fell swoop, decided to take his team to Hot Springs, Arkansas to sweat the winter fat off of his players.

Spring training first came to Florida in 1888, when the Washington Senators held spring training in Jacksonville.  The accommodations for the players, however, were less than desirable.  A boardinghouse finally agreed to take the players in, giving them food and 2-to-a-bed sleeping arrangements in return for the ballplayers not mingling with the rest of the guests.  Since ballplayers were a rowdy lot back then, this arrangement didn’t quite work out.

Even though the Civil War had only been over for a little over 20 years, Southerners were still smarting over their losses.  All those drunken Northern ballplayers surely didn’t make a good impression on them.  In the early 1890s, the Cubs were kicked out of Waycross, Georgia because one of the players allegedly flirted with the hotel manager’s wife.

The weather was great down South, but the facilities left a lot to be desired.  Most teams practiced wherever they could find a large patch of land, like a farmer’s field.  Spring training in the 1800s was more about getting the winter fat off of the players than practicing hitting and fielding, however.  Team owners held a tight rein on spring training expenditures.  They made some of their money back by holding exhibition games.

Spring training as we know it today started in 1894, when Baltimore Orioles manager Ned Hanlon took the team to Macon, Georgia and drilled them in fielding and hitting.  The Orioles won the pennant that year and the next 2 years after, and other teams sat up and took notice.

John McGraw became the manager of the New York Giants in 1902, and spring training changed forever thanks to his influence.  McGraw worked the players like Hanlon, his mentor, but he also treated his players like royalty, making spring training the spectacle it is today.  McGraw moved the Giants to Memphis for spring training in 1903.  He was also an astute marketer  – he had reporters cover spring training and their stories were printed in Northern newspapers, giving fans baseball fever so that the box office would be booming on opening day, much like spring training coverage does now in 2013.

Other teams took note of McGraw’s success and they began to emulate his methods.  Newspaper reporters from every paper covering major league baseball sent reporters to spring training.  Baseball players were now seen as celebrities instead of ingrates, and Southern cities began to compete to hold spring training and to make money from it.

In 1910, Al Lang moved to St. Petersburg to escape the stifling air in Pittsburgh which exacerbated a respiratory ailment that he suffered from and his doctors told Al he only had 6 months to live.  The air in St. Petersburg must have agreed with Al, for he lived for another 49 1/2 years.  Al’s friend Barney Dreyfuss owned the Pittsburgh Pirates and Al tried to persuade Barney to have the Pirates hold spring training in St. Petersburg.  Al wasn’t discouraged, however – he gathered some of the civic leaders and raised enough money to build a spring training facility. The only team that would snap at the bait was the St. Louis Browns, whose general manager was Branch Rickey, a name known to most Cardinals fans.  The citizens of St. Petersburg gave the Browns a great deal in 1914 – they paid for the team’s transportation, their food and lodging and paid for reporters to accompany the team.  The Browns must have been less than impressed, however, because they moved spring training to Houston in 1915.

Al was not deterred – he approached the Phillies and the A’s and the Phillies held spring training in St. Petersburg in 1915.  They eventually won the pennant, giving the credit to spring training in St. Petersburg.  Al was elected mayor that year and he developed Ft. Lauderdale into a modern city and Florida’s major tourist attraction at that time.  The Yankees, among other teams, held spring training in St. Petersburg.  The Cardinals started holding spring training in St. Petersburg in 1936. The Yankees left St. Petersburg in 1960, but the Mets moved in. The Cardinals held spring training in St. Petersburg from 1936-1942 and from 1946-1997, when they left for Jupiter – Florida, that is.

Teams began to hold spring training in other Florida towns in the late 1920’s such as  Bradenton, Clearwater, Sarasota, Fort Myers, Orlando, Winter Haven, and Lakeland.  Not only were Northern reporters writing stories about spring training, but they were writing about how warm and sunny it was in Florida, making them winter destination spots. By the mid-1930’s, teams stopped migrating from town and settled in one spot.

The term “Grapefruit League” for the spring training teams was first coined in 1923 when a Syracuse, NY paper reported that then Commissioner Kenesaw Landis was “touring the orange and grapefruit league.”  The term didn’t take off until after World War II, when more exhibition games began to be played.

The Cactus League began in 1947 in Arizona, started by the Cleveland Indians.  The then Brooklyn Giants also started training there that same year, and the Cubs joined them in 1952, after having trained in California on Catalina Island for thirty years. The Orioles, the Red Sox and the Angels followed.  Boston and Houston, however, went back to Florida to train by the mid-1960’s.  The A’s, the Padres, and the Seattle Pilots (now known as the Milwaukee Brewers) began to hold their spring training in Arizona.

During World War II, teams held spring training in the North due to travel restrictions.  The Cardinals held spring training in Cairo, Illinois. After World War II was over, spring training once again was held in Florida.  Segregation reared its ugly head in 1946 when Jackie Robinson and African-American teammate John Wright could not stay with the rest of the Dodgers and had to stay in a private home.  Branch Rickey eventually moved the Dodgers’ spring training to Vero Beach and built a facility called “Dodgertown.” The Dodgers trained in Vero Beach until 2008, when they moved to Arizona.

Segregation, unfortunately, got worse as more African-Americans baseball players trained with the major league teams. The African-American players were not allowed to stay in the same hotels as the white players because of racial prejudice in the South.  They were forced to stay in private homes or in other hotels.  It was hard to get players to mesh as a team when some of the players had to room somewhere else.  In the early 1960’s, due to efforts by Bill White and others, segregation finally came to an end.

There is more spring training history than can fit in this blog post and I hope I haven’t bored you too much.  You can read more about the history of spring training in the book listed in the bibliography below.  Thanks for reading!  See you next time!

Diane

Bibliography:  Under the March Sun:  The Story of Spring Training by Charles Fountain, Oxford University Press 2009

Bucket list – Cardinals style

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while – I guess I haven’t had much to say.  

This post was inspired by a thread that I posted on at a message board about bucket lists.  I posted some Cardinals related wishes there, but it got me thinking about other Cardinals related things that I’ve never done.  So here’s the Cardinals section of my bucket list:

1.  Sit in the Commissioner’s Box seats next to the dugout.
The closest I’ve ever sat to the field in Busch Stadium III is on the second level.  It would be so nice to sit in these box seats, and not have to worry about paying for food and drink.  Plus, the view would be awesome.  And I might be able to accomplish #4 below. 

2.  Sing the National Anthem before a Cardinals game.
I’ve performed the National Anthem at a Cardinals game, but not vocally.  I was part of a 100 person handbell choir that rang the National Anthem at Busch Stadium II for the Cardinals’ 100th anniversary in 1992.  My degree is in music and I took voice lessons in college.  I also sang in church choirs for over 20 years.  I’m a first soprano, so I can sing the Anthem in the original key (F). 

3.   Sit in the radio broadcast booth with Mike and Jim and maybe do an inning of play-by-play. 
I met the late Jack Buck at a Cardinals rally, not long after his book That’s a Winner! came out.  I told him that I had really enjoyed his book and he told me to bring my copy up to the broadcast booth and he would sign it for me.  Unfortunately, I never got to do that. 

4.  Catch a foul ball.
I went to a Cards game last year and Yadi Molina hit a foul ball that landed 2 rows below where I was sitting.  Darn!

5. Catch a home run ball.
In 2001, my husband and I were sitting at a table in Homer’s Landing in Busch Stadium II.  The Cards were playing the Reds that night, and Ken Griffey, Jr. hit a HR shot that bounced off of a table 2 rows below us.  I wasn’t fast enough to get that one.

6.  Meet Albert Pujols and Yadi Molina.
Okay, who doesn’t?  LOL!  The closest I’ve gotten to Albert was viewing him from afar at Winter Warmup.  I couldn’t afford the price to get his autograph. 

7.  Go to a Cardinals home playoff or World Series game.
I’ve been a Cardinals fan for over 30 years but have never had the pleasure of attending a Cardinals home playoff or World Series game.  My husband would rather watch these games at home, but I would love to feel the electricity from the crowd that I can see on TV. 

8.  Go to an All Star Game. 
The closest I got to last year’s All Star Game was working at Fan Fest.  That was fun, but it’s not the same as being at the actual game. 

9.  Go to spring training. 
Another activity I’ve never been able to attend.  I have vacation time, but not the funds. 

10.  Go to a Cards game at another MLB stadium.
Kaufmann Stadium and Wrigley Field are the closest ones to where I live. Maybe someday.

11.  Visit the Baseball Hall of Fame.
It would be so cool to visit all the Cardinals exhibits at the Hall. 

12.  Attend Whitey Herzog’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Numbers 11 and 12 could be combined if I won the lottery anytime soon.  I may have to settle for watching #12 on MLB Network. 

13.  Go to an Opening Day game again.
I miss the days when Opening Day games were at night.  I would have to take off work to attend an Opening Day game now. 

Well, there’s my list.  Are there any Cardinals items on your bucket list?  Feel free to comment below.

See you next time! 

Diane